Tom Waits has worked as a composer for several movies and musical plays and has acted in supporting and leading roles in films or musical plays. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his soundtrack work on One from the Heart.
In 1980 Tom Waits started to work with Francis Ford Coppola, who asked him to provide music for his film One from the Heart. In 1980 Waits married Kathleen Brennan, whom he had met while working on the set of the movie One from the Heart.
Waits appeared in a cameo role as a trumpet player in One from the Heart theatrical release in 1982.
Tom Waits received an Oscar nomination for Original Song Score. Waits appeared in cameos in Coppola’s movies The Outsiders 1983, Rumble Fish 1983, and The Cotton Club 1984, and a major role in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Waits played the lead role in Franks Wild Years, a musical play by Waits and Brennan in 1986. Waits had several supporting roles such as Rudy the Kraut in Ironweed alongside Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep and Robert Frank’s Candy Mountain. Tom Waits had a lead role in Jim Jarmusch’s Down by Law in 1986.
In 1989, Waits appeared in theatrical stage role as Curly in Thomas Babe’s Demon Wine, alongside Bill Pullman, Philip Baker Hall, Carol Kane, and Bud Cort.
Waits appeared appearances in three movies: as the voice of a radio DJ in Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train, as Kenny the Hitman in Robert Dornhelm’s Cold Feet and the lead role of Punch & Judy man Silva in Bearskin: An Urban Fairytale.
Waits had a cameo role as a disabled veteran in Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King. He also appeared in Steve Rash’s Queens Logic alongside Kevin Bacon, John Malkovich, and Jamie Lee Curtis and in Hector Babenco’s film At Play in the Fields of the Lord.
In 1992 palyed Renfield in Francis Ford Coppola’s film Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
In 1997, Waits and Brennan wrote and performed the music for Bunny the animated short film by 20th Century Fox’s Blue Sky Studios. Bunny was awarded Best Animated Short Film by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Waits appeared in the comedy Mystery Men.
Waits had a five-year break from acting before he took a role in re-release of his 1993 Jim Jarmusch-directed short Coffee and Cigarettes: Somewhere in California, costarring Iggy Pop, compiled in Coffee and Cigarettes.
In 2005, Waits appeared in the Tony Scott film Domino. In the same year, Waits appeared in a cameo in Roberto Benigni’s romantic comedy La Tigre e la Neve.
He played the role in Wristcutters: A Love Story, which opened in November 2007.In 2009 Waits played in the role of Mr. Nick in Terry Gilliam’s film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.Leading star Heath Ledger died in January 2008 and the films’ future was at stake but the production got new actors playing his character in scenes he didn’t finish.
Waits played the role in the film The Book of Eli, opposite Denzel Washington.